PCT 2018 Gear List

We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire… Give us the tools and we will finish the job.

Sir Winston Churchill, radio broadcast February 9, 1941
PCT 2018 gear, cat not included

Here is the gear for my 2018 PCT thru-hike. Extended comments about particular items are at the end. I found a great deal of variation on equipment choices among hikers. Many small gear vendors are in healthy competition, with frequent innovations and design updates.

Continue reading “PCT 2018 Gear List”

Knife Upgrade

Main blade, nail file with screwdriver tip, scissors, tweezers, and toothpick: the Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army Knife is a marvel of design in a lightweight form factor respected by long distance hikers. I do not really need the toothpick, though, so can something else go in that slot? The plastic toothpick is roughly 1.75 inches long x 0.12 inches wide x 0.047 inches thick.

Swiss Army Knife SD Classic with toothpick
Swiss Army Knife SD Classic with toothpick

FireSteel.com sells blank rods of ferrocerrium in various sizes, including the FireSteel Tiny, 1/8 x 2 inches, at less than US$1.00 per rod. 1/8 inch is close to the width of the toothpick, so we just need to grind down one side flat, grind down most of the opposite side to a thickness of 0.047 inches. We must leave a thick tip at one end as with the plastic toothpick, to allow fingers to remove the gadget from the handle of the knife.

Continue reading “Knife Upgrade”

CDT 2014 CO Gear List

… You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need

— Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Rolling Stones

 

. Category Item Notes Weight in grams Weight in oz
. worn/carried
. camp shirt Icebreaker merino long sleeve crew 171 6.0
. pants RailRiders Eco-Mesh Pant 310 10.9
. trailrunner shoes Merrell Moab Ventilator 992 35.0
. hiking gaiters Dirty Girl 34 1.2
. insole inserts green SuperFeet 106 3.7
. hiking socks REI mid-calf merino 91 3.2
. knee brace Cho-Pat Dual Action Knee Strap
. bandana AT logo cotton/poly bandana 30 1.1
. trekking poles Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-pole with carbide tips minus straps 263 9.3
. sun glasses 20 0.7
. hat Sunday Afternoons Adventure flap hat 70 2.5
.
. Total worn/carried 2087 73.6
.
. pounds: 4.6
.
.
. pack pack ZPacks Arc Blast backpack 440 15.5
. pack liner trash compactor bag 60 2.1
. cell phone holder Zpacks cuben fiber shoulder pouch 8 0.3
. phone Android phone: MotoX (camera, GPS, etc) 136 4.8
.
. Cook/water water bottles 2 x 1.25 liter soda bottles 84 3.0
. even more water 1 liter Platypus 30 1.1
. cook stove Trail Designs Caldera Sidewinder TiTri with Gram Cracker for Esbit fuel 21 0.7
. butane lighter Scripto Tiny Lite 12 0.4
. cook pot 0.3Liter Evernew Titanium mug-pot with lid 74 2.6
. pot cozy homemade with Reflectix 25 0.9
. spoon lexan 9 0.3
. water purifier Sawyer Mini 81 2.9
. water purification backup 10 MSR Aquatabs 1 0.0
. food bag ZPacks Roll Top Blast 40 1.4
. rope ZPacks 1.5 mm Z-Line Cord 21 0.7
.
. Shelter tarp/tent ZPacks Hexamid solo tent w/screen 269 9.5
. tent stakes 6 Tite Lite titanium stakes 37 1.3
. tent stakes 1 titanium V Stake 9 0.3
.
. Sleeping sleeping bag ZPacks 20F 650 22.9
. sleeping pad Gossamer Gear NightLight_Torso 101 3.6
. ground cloth Polycryo medium size 42 1.5
.
. Clothes camp shirt Icebreaker merino short sleeve 139 4.9
. camp shorts GoLite men’s nylon shorts 132 4.7
. warm top Western Mountaineering down vest 125 4.4
. warm hat LLBean Trail Model fleece hat 36 1.3
. rain jacket GoLite Malpais Trinity 217 7.7
. wind shirt Montbell Tachyon anorak 63 2.2
. fleece gloves LLBean Polartec Liner Gloves (with AnyGlove on forefingers and thumbs) 38 1.3
. rain mitts ZPacks cuben fiber mitts 28
. compression socks Truform below knee stockings 20-30 mmHg 64 2.3
. spare socks SmartWool mid-calf merino 91 3.2
.
. Misc head net “Sea to Summit” mosquito net, doubles as clothes bag 23 0.8
. first aid kit band-aids, molefoam, aspirin, loperamide, sudafed, super glue, … 61 2.2
. sewing kit home assembled 20 0.7
. tooth care dehydrated dots of toothpaste, toothbrush with trimmed handle, gum brush, floss 17 0.6
. soap Dr Bonner liquid in 0.5oz dropper bottle 24 0.8
. wipes 8 dried wipes in zip bag 24 0.8
. toiletry bag no-see-um mesh bag 5″x6″ 4 0.1
. magnifying glass credit card size fresnel lens 2 0.1
. wallet with id all-Ett sport sailcloth wallet (5g) plus cards 36 1.3
. repair kit duct tape, foil tape, etc 25 0.9
. backup fire starter Bic mini lighter 14 0.5
. pen ballpoint refill cartridge + spare 1 0.0
. flashlight Petzl e+Lite 27 1.0
. backup compass Suunto Clipper compass 4 0.1
. maps Ley maps, double-sided 8.5×11, current trail section 55 1.9
. solar charger Harbor Freight 5W folding solar panel, trimmed 240 8.5
. usb charger for phone and battery pack, Apple travel charger 5W wall wart 23 0.8
. usb cable 9inch microUSB cable 13 0.5
. recharger pack Jackery Mini 3200mAh 82 2.9
. headphone Apple Earpod 11 0.4
. itinerary+guide only carry pages needed for that week 10 0.4
. insect repellent 100% DEET repackaged in 0.5oz dropper bottle 23 0.8
. sun screen liquid, repacked in 0.5oz dropper bottle 24 0.8
. toilet paper partial roll, remove cardboard tube, in zip bag 20 0.7
. knife Victoronix Swiss Army Classic 20 0.7
. accessory bag no-see-um mesh bag 7″x9″ 8 0.3
.
. Total base weight 3894 137.4
.
. pounds: 8.6
.
.
. Sometimes carried
.
. rain pants 233 8.2
. shoe traction Yak Trax Pro 144 5.1
. neck gaiter microfleece 46 1.6

Stove: No-cook sounds promising, but for frigid Colorado I was glad to bring a stove for hot dinners. Esbit fuel is easier to mail than alcohol, allowed in flat-rate Priority Mail boxes, though Heet is available in several Colorado trail town. Compared to alcohol, Esbit has an odor and leaves a residue on pots. I burned Esbit tabs exclusively on this trip as an experiment, and might continue solid fuel for future hikes. Continue reading “CDT 2014 CO Gear List”

CDT 2013 NM Gear List

Agatha Clay: People keep giving me rings, but I think a small death ray might be more practical.
— “Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess”, by Phil and Kaja Foglio

 

. Category Item Notes Weight in grams Weight in oz
. worn/carried
. camp shirt SmartWool Microweight long sleeve crew 171 6.0
. pants RailRiders Eco-Mesh Pant 310 10.9
. trailrunner shoes Merrell Moab Ventilator 992 35.0
. hiking gaiters Dirty Girl 34 1.2
. insole inserts green SuperFeet 106 3.7
. hiking socks REI mid-calf merino 91 3.2
. knee brace Cho-Pat Dual Action Knee Strap
. bandana AT logo cotton/poly bandana 30 1.1
. trekking poles Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-pole with carbide tips minus straps 263 9.3
. sun glasses 20 0.7
. hat Outdoor Research Helios sun hat 79 2.8
.
. Total worn/carried 2096 73.9
.
. pounds: 4.6
.
.
. pack pack Zpacks Arc Blast backpack 440 15.5
. pack liner trash compactor bag 60 2.1
. cell phone holder Zpacks cuben fiber shoulder pouch 8 0.3
. phone Android phone: Defy XT 557 (camera, GPS, etc) 109 3.8
.
. Cook/water water bottles 2x 2 liter soda bottles 106 3.7
. even more water 2x 1 liter Platypus 57 2.0
. cook stove Caldera system with alcohol stove in plastic cannister 133 4.7
. fuel bottle labeled 12oz soda bottle for methanol 22 0.8
. butane lighter Scripto Tiny Lite 12 0.4
. cook pot 0.5Liter Evernew Titanium mug-pot with lid 74 2.6
. pot cozy homemade with Reflectix 25 0.9
. spoon lexan 9 0.3
. water purifier Sawyer Squeeze 81 2.9
. water purification backup repackaged Potable Aqua tablets 10 0.4
. food bag ZPacks Roll Top Blast 40 1.4
. rope ZPacks 1.5 mm Z-Line Cord 21 0.7
.
. Shelter tarp/tent ZPacks Hexamid solo tent w/screen 269 9.5
. tent stakes 6 Tite Lite titanium stakes 37 1.3
. tent stakes 1 titanium V Stake 9 0.3
.
. Sleeping sleeping bag Western Mountaineering SummerLite 32F 571 20.1
. sleeping bag liner Cocoon silk Mummy Liner 115 4.1
. sleeping pad Gossamer Gear NightLight_Torso 101 3.6
. ground cloth Polycryo medium size 42 1.5
.
. Clothes camp shirt Icebreaker merino short sleeve 142 5.0
. camp shorts GoLite men’s nylon shorts 132 4.7
. warm top Western Mountaineering down vest 125 4.4
. warm hat LLBean Trail Model fleece hat 36 1.3
. rain jacket GoLite Malpais Trinity 217 7.7
. wind shirt Montbell Tachyon anorak 63 2.2
. fleece gloves LLBean Polartec Liner Gloves 38 1.3
. compression socks Truform calf length medium compression 42 1.5
. spare socks SmartWool mid-calf merino 91 3.2
.
. Misc head net “Sea to Summit” mosquito net, doubles as clothes bag 23 0.8
. first aid kit band-aids, molefoam, aspirin, loperamide, sudafed, super glue, … 61 2.2
. sewing kit home assembled 20 0.7
. tooth care dehydrated dots of toothpaste, toothbrush with trimmed handle, gum brush, floss 17 0.6
. soap Dr Bonner liquid in 0.5oz dropper bottle 24 0.8
. moist-wipes 8 wipes in zip bag 75 2.6
. toiletry bag no-see-um mesh bag 5″x6″ 4 0.1
. magnifying glass credit card size fresnel lens 2 0.1
. wallet with id all-Ett sport sailcloth wallet (5g) plus cards 30 1.1
. repair kit duct tape, foil tape, sealer, etc 25 0.9
. backup fire starter Spark-Lite + 3 tinder wads 6 0.2
. pen ballpoint refill cartridge + spare 1 0.0
. flashlight Petzl e+Lite 27 1.0
. backup compass Suunto Clipper compass 4 0.1
. maps Ley maps, double-sided 8.5×11, current trail section 55 1.9
. solar charger Instapark M4S 4W folding solar panel with built-in 2,000 mAh battery pack 220 7.8
. usb charger for phone and battery pack, Apple travel charger 23 0.8
. usb cable 9inch microUSB cable 13 0.5
. recharger pack mophie juice pack powerstation 4000mAh 128 4.5
. headphone earbud, not inside-ear 5 0.2
. itinerary+guide only carry pages needed for that week 10 0.4
. insect repellent 100% DEET repackaged in 0.5oz dropper bottle 23 0.8
. sun screen liquid, repacked in 0.5oz dropper bottle 24 0.8
. toilet paper partial roll, remove cardboard tube, in zip bag 20 0.7
. knife Victoronix Swiss Army Classic 18 0.6
. accessory bag no-see-um mesh bag 7″x9″ 8 0.3
.
. Total base weight 4103 144.7
.
. pounds: 9.0

Differences with the Appalachian Trail list:

  • Water is scarce, with 20 miles to next reliable water source not uncommon in southern New Mexico, so a different pack capable of comfortably carrying 5 or 6 liters of water (over 10 pounds) a long distance is needed.
  • The extra water is heavy, so my frameless Mariposa pack will not do.
  • Available water is often turbid, which limits performance of UV water treatment. One of the new lightweight squeeze filters is used this trip.
  • The CDT is often cold, with big drops in nighttime temperatures, so a warmer sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and clothing are desirable.
  • With higher elevation and no “green tunnel”, sun exposure is greater. I decided to hike in long sleeve clothes, sun hat, and sunglasses. And a wide-brimmed hat is not sufficient to protect my face when hiking all day, so more sun screen is used.
  • Fewer trail towns mean I need a better charging solution for cell phone(gps/camera/mp3 player/ebook reader/journal/audio recorder) and I tried a folding solar panel mounted on top of my pack.
  • An electronic trail journal is now used in place of paper. I needed a better onscreen keyboard to get my typing rate up to an acceptable level. MessagEase is a free substitute keyboard that works for me, but has a really steep learning curve, so I needed to drill on the MessagEase Game every day from January to April before my trip. I might write about other phone apps useful for hiking in another post.

Equipment Experience

The light-weight merino long sleeve shirt worked fine as a camp shirt on the AT, but started wearing out when used as daytime clothing, especially under the pack straps. No amount of sewing kit repair could keep the shirt together by the final days of the trip.
Shirt not holding together

One week I was running low on sun screen, having left my bottle at the last hotel. To keep my hands from burning I added thumb loops to my long-sleeved shirt. The seams at the wrist just happened to be placed in such a way as to keep my modification from ripping the material.
Thumb loop on shirt, to shield hands from sun

The solar panel with built-in battery pack was not enough to keep up with my cell phone charging requirements, so I also needed the external USB charger pack. I will try a different solar panel next year in hopes of not needing to supplement with my mophie. The solar panel was attached with mini side buckles sewn onto the panel fabric and backpack attachment straps, providing quick release to get access to the top opening of the pack.

IMG_0062

Running gaiters kept small rocks and sand out of my shoes, so I almost never had to stop for a shoe break. The gaiters got pretty torn up by barbed wire fences, so were ready to be replaced by trip’s end at Cumbres Pass.

My Helios wide-brimmed hat was not enough to keep my face and neck from burning when hiking all day, especially when the sun was low in the sky. I needed to pin my bandana with safety pins on the brim for more shade.
Adding more shade to hat

The Caldera cooking system used on the AT performed well, but requires a separate plastic canister for storage. I tried transitioning to a home-made stove/windscreen/pot-support that fits inside my 0.5 liter pot for compact storage and to save weight. Plenty of wind can be expected on the CDT, so a good functioning wind screen is essential for alcohol stoves. I experimented with making several alcohol stove designs, but was not able to improve on the Caldera for cooking time and fuel use when I measured performance, so I stayed with the older equipment.

The Sawyer filter worked great, and was similar in weight to a Steripen, so I will keep using. I did include the syringe for backwashing the filter, and certainly needed it for New Mexico. During the day I kept the Sawyer screwed onto one of two 2-liter plastic soda bottles, stored in the lower outer side pockets of the pack. The soda bottles squeezed just as easily as a platypus bottle, and were quite durable and inexpensive. Do not screw on the filter too hard on the bottle threads, or you will chew up the washer and cause leakage during filtering.
wpid-IMG_20130604_142120.jpg

I am used to hiking in shorts, but switched to long pants this trip for sun protection. The RailRiders performed well, did not bind at the knees, and allowed ventilation with the side zippered mesh.

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